Category Archives: Consumer hints & advice

Tips for attending bride shows….. From a man’s prospective

Well gents, the wedding show season has begun, and if you’re lucky enough to be chosen to attend, your betrothed will probably be toting you around a bustling hotel or convention center, to shop for all the elements to create her dream wedding.
So to ease the tension and stress of feeling you’re just along for the ride, I’ll give you a few pointers to help you survive.

1) STAY AWAY FROM MAN CAVES!!
Some show promoters feature a man cave to give you some “relief” from walking around doing “girl things” all day (not a good idea). Truth be told, nothing could be more selfish than to volunteer to go to a show with your woman, knowing you had no intention of spending any time with her. I guarantee, SHE WON’T LIKE IT!
2) SHOW SOME INTEREST:
Hey, it’s your wedding too! You have decisions to make, and she brought you along because she respects your opinion (unless you have a bridezilla, then no one is safe), and it’s a great way to show solidarity as you face pushy vendors. And if she has no support, she could get bullied into choosing a vendor you won’t like.
3) BE PATIENT:
She may want to linger about with the vendors that interest her most. Take note, these will probably be the things you are going to discuss later. Besides, you don’t want to be the bad guy for rushing her through the show, do you?
4) GIVE POSITIVE INPUT:
Remember #2? Your opinion has great value if she brought you along. Don’t just say “yes dear” or “whatever she wants”. If she wants to share the experience, believe me, she’s going to want to know what you think.
5) STAY FOCUSED, STAY TOGETHER:
This is also a time for you to get a grasp on some of the things you may be interested in. You won’t believe how much you’ll begin to care, the closer you get to your date. And if you do happen to separate, at least make sure you have something in hand, to show you were serving a purpose. And I would advise not making too many excuses to run to the restroom, she’ll get a sense you won’t want to be there.

These hints come from my many years of exhibiting, and at one time, attending bride shows. The best you can do is give your best, and if you won’t be there in spirit, it’s best not to be there at all. Better than getting the mad eye or silent treatment on the way home, that’s a long ride!
Follow this advice, and it will be all good, shop well men, and enjoy the show!

~A~


Good isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t good

As I strolled through Carson Street on some much needed R&R from a busy weekend, I glanced over to a tattoo shop that posted an interesting sign:

A good tattoo isn’t cheap ~ A cheap tattoo isn’t good

It got me thinking, how true this applies to anything of value. And being an entertainer, losing jobs to people that are undercutting me, and offering a lot less in the quality department, had prompted me to write my own interpretation of this insightful quote.

Yes, the old cliche, “you get what you pay for” comes to mind as well, but obviously, you can’t beat this horse enough. I have been a victim of price hunting as well, but it didn’t take me long to learn my lesson. (Short story: I bought an elliptical machine from a popular sporting goods store, simply because it was cheap, and I thought it would do the job, I broke it in 10 days. I got my money back, and went to buy one that was more expensive, but after purchasing, and owning it for over 10 years, I see where that extra money went!) Fortunately, I was lucky enough to return the item that disappointed me. Things that are not recoverable, like tattoos, and once in a lifetime events, not so much.

I’m not suggesting you break the bank when you make such decisions, no one should ever risk financial ruin when trying to obtain what is important to them. What I am saying, researching what you are shopping for to fit your needs, and really openly exploring your options, saves you a lot more than money. And quite frankly, cheap has always proven itself to never be good.


A matter of courtesy: It’s alright to say no

The most difficult part of writing about this particular subject, without sounding bitter, or like I’m owed something, was trying to not make this personal.
Please understand, that is not the case, but I believe it is a subject that should be addressed. This is not a pricing issue (although it seems it could be), it is a matter of manners and reciprocal courtesy. I am speaking on behalf of other vendors that I have discussed this with as well.

Let me first begin by saying, no, I DO NOT expect every prospective client that calls, to book my services!

I’ve noticed an unfortunate growing trend amongst new prospects. After initiating first contact, they aren’t even courteous enough to return correspondence, once their prospective vendor has done their part in replying to a request. This is a strange thing to me, after attending a few focus groups, and reading different chatboards, one of the things most of the brides complained about, was the vendor they were interested in, did not reply quickly enough, if at all. So, why isn’t your prospective vendor entitled to the same courtesy?
The main question I would like to pose, if after you’ve made an inquiry, your vendor has promptly replied, and you are no longer interested, do you feel the next appropriate action is to ignore them? A lot of vendors in my industry are independent operators, which means you are dealing real people, not callous corporate entities, that will forget you the moment you hang up. This of course, is not everyone, but the number is growing.

The cyber world allows people to be even more distant than ever before, and making it more difficult to be personal in a situation that requires one to be personable. It is very misleading when speaking to a prospective client, everything seems to be going well, so you decide to call or e-mail back to follow up, and suddenly, they are impossible to get a hold of. I understand being busy, we all are when planning important events, but the time you could have taken to tell them you are not interested, is probably a lot shorter than the time it took to ask the numerous questions, that you were given all the answers to, before you decided to reject their services. You have basically told them that their time has no value to you. Would you like for your chosen vendor to not contact you, after they’ve found someone to fill your date? I’m sure that would not be a very pleasant surprise.

For some reason, it seems rudeness is the new standard of communication, and it is a one way street. Could you imagine if vendors took the same route as some of their prospective clients? The chatboards would be on fire with horrible reviews, and we would all be out of business!

Just remember, being polite is like having insurance, you never know when you may end up needing it (because that same person you ignored, might be the only one available in case something happens), but it’s always nice to have. Believe me, unlike the Alison Krauss song, it’s better to say “no”, than to say nothing at all.

~A~


Tips for navigating bridal shows….. Just a few hints.

Brideshows, bridal fairs, bride expos, wedding productions…..
I fondly refer to them as “The Circus” Even though they are a necessary evil for me, I love doing them, because the atmosphere presents many new opportunities for me. Whatever you know them as, you can find lots of valuable information, if you are focused, and up to the challenge. These helpful hints may guide you along, so that your experience will be more pleasant, and you can get on track to planning your dream wedding.
Here goes…..

1) Wear comfortable shoes:
Although being fashionable is always good when you are out in public, this is really not the best time to be cute. Convention centers have hard floors, and even when you go to a hotel show, where the floors are carpeted, there will be lots of walking involved. If you want to last more than a half an hour, do yourself the favor.

2) Don’t go alone!:
Ever heard the term, “There’s safety in numbers”? I’m not saying you have to bring an army with you, but it does help to have one or two people to discuss important matters with you. Preferably someone that will actually be involved with your wedding, and can offer differing opinions or reinforce your decisions Your MOH, mother, and (depending on whether or not it’s football season) your groom to be, are definitely good people to consider tagging along. Some vendors can be really aggressive with their approach, and you become an easy target, which could sour your taste about attending another show.

3) It’s best not to send a proxy:
I’ll tell you why. Even someone with the best intentions, will never be as excited as you are about your big day. I’ve seen it a hundred times. Parents, siblings, friends of the bride and groom, will blow through the building as quickly as possible, and gather tons of information for you, leaving you to sift through two bags full of fliers and cards, thus putting you back at square one…. Having no idea where to start 😦

4) Try to attend more than one show:
The number of vendors available for each category is astounding. There is quite a bit of information to process, and trying to find the right fit for every possible vendor in one show, can be really overwhelming. Try to focus on 1-3 things at a time, and take each show in small doses, there is a lot to see, and with patience, you’ll get through it just fine.

And last…….

5) Try to be in a good mood 🙂 :
This is also something I’ve seen a lot of. When you are in a bad mood, you make bad decisions. Come on, it’s your wedding!! What ever may be the cause of you not being happy at the moment, could really stress you out when shopping around for your vendors, and a rash decision could result in buyer’s remorse. But if you absolutely HAVE to go in a cranky disposition, remember #’s 1 & 2, comfy shoes, and lots of friends!

These are not words to live by, because I’m not telling you what you have to do, but from my experience as a vendor, and from what I’ve observed, this can definitely help, as you search for the people that will make the day of your dreams come true.

Hope this helps 🙂
~A~


The usefulness of vendor reviews – Do you find them useful?

As you embark on the daunting task of planning one of the most important events of your life, a question comes to mind: Where can I find the most useful information to make an informed decision? (other subjects to follow)

One of many places you may seek, is a chat-board, or review site, populated by recently married brides.

The question I have, as a vendor myself, How much of your decision to hire someone, depends on the opinions of what others said? How openly do you evaluate each post, do you look for multiple reviews, and do you feel you can trust the opinions of others to point you in the right direction?

From honest experience (and this will be the last time I mention my self) I’ve had many positive reviews, one mediocre, and one from someone whose event I didn’t even do. So I have mixed feelings about this subject, and asking for reviews is like pulling teeth from a wild boar!

So you’ve found a vendor you like, you’ve met them in person, but before you make the jump, there is some last minute checking you’d like to do. Here is the tricky part 1) You cannot find anything, or very little about this vendor. 2) You find loads of reviews, but a high percentage are negative. 3) The potential vendor has nothing but shining reviews, and you are seemingly impressed. Which would have the most influence on you, and which the least?

The unfortunate truth about reviews is pretty much the same as anything else. A harmful review can be written by someone who found, or experienced something wrong with everyone, except the vendor you like, but being caught in the crossfire of anger, they found the smallest mistake and exploited it. A good piece of advice would be, don’t write a review while you are in a bad mood. Other instances may have included another vendor disguised as a recent bride, or worse yet, an individual with a strong dislike for a vendor they’ve never used. These harmful reviews could sabotage the outcome of your chosen vendor’s success.
Some vendors are not completely innocent. They will sometimes pose as clients on different chat-boards, and boost themselves with overwhelming reviews.

There is a definite positive side to reviews, and although very helpful at times, like any amount of research, you must trust your own judgment.
Other ways that review sites can be of better use to you, is having the reviewer’s basic contact information available, so that you may gain some insight, by speaking with them about their event experience with your chosen vendor.
If you’ve found a review to be helpful, it would be reciprocally helpful to others, to write one yourself, and also make yourself available for inquiries about your experience. You have a great deal of power to express what may potentially influence someone’s decision, just as you were influenced by what you’ve read…..

Was that helpful? I hope it was!


How do you feel about uplighting?: I choose ADS

As the trend of uplighting is growing ever more popular, I’ve noticed a lot of my fellow entertainers expanding their services to include uplighting.

I think it’s a nice idea, but I also believe I should stick to what I’m good at. I operate best as an entertainer, and my focus remains to provide a memorable show. Besides, I’ve also noticed complaints from other DJs, that the venues are getting all the credit for setting up the room so nicely! Such a shame that the hard work is credited to someone else, even if you are making a good return.

My belief is: Leave the work to those to whom it is intended!
Would you hire a photographer to DJ your wedding? How about getting your florist to shoot video? See what I mean?

As far as monogram, and dance lighting, I do offer those, but uplighting should be handled by people that specialize in lighting. I would feel horrible, if I had charged someone for uplighting, and something went wrong that would cause me to spend time troubleshooting a faulty fixture, or a program failing, thus pulling me away from my responsibility as an entertainer!

This is why all my referrals for lighting will go to ADS Lighting & Staging. They are very good at what they do, because that’s all they do! ADS is the exclusive vendor for event uplighting at The Pennsylvanian on Penn Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA. Andy Shick, the owner, is a very nice person, and really easy to work with. For more information about ADS, click the link below.


Heart or Wallet? (how would you choose your wedding entertainment?)

I’ve pondered many times, how to approach this subject without sounding self-important, or coming off as offensive. I also have come to an understanding, that different people have different opinions of what the most important part of their event is. With that being said, here goes…

If you believe entertainment is the most important part of your event (Outside of yourself, of course), read on. If not, stop here, I do not want to offend you.
I believe entertainment is one of the most important factors of an event. Not because I am an entertainer, but from my experience as a consumer as well.

I was once single, and my future wife and I both read the same books and magazines that you are probably reading right now. You know, the ones that give you tips on how to skimp as much as you can on your limited budget, and the 52 step questionnaire you should use to interview your potential DJ for your reception?
Here is one tip that can be of unquestionable value: THROW THAT BOOK AWAY!!!
Chances are, if you are meeting with a true professional, the answers to those questions are going to be exactly what you want to hear, thus wasting a good 10-15 minutes of your meeting.

Let me tell you something you haven’t already heard. I am a personable man, and I like to get to know who I’m working for, I also want to present who I am, instead of telling you how many songs I have. An interview goes both ways, a professional will not only want to get to know you, but will also determine whether or not they want to work for you. Believe it or not, I don’t see potential clients as walking dollar signs, but future friends. I want to make sure our personalities are compatible.

I will not try to dictate how much you pay for your DJ, pricing is another subject. What I will tell you, is that your hiring of wedding entertainer, hinges on how much you value your event. I like to see wedding receptions as an investment in your memories, and you want to protect that investment, correct? Think of how you would buy a car, would you just jump into the first thing you see, just because you need a ride now? I would look the thing over, see how it would be practical in my everyday use, and hopefully test drive the thing, before I made my decision. I would hope my potential clients would take the same measures before hiring me.

In closing, the main focus of hiring your entertainer, is that you are comfortable with them. Look for someone that will LISTEN to what you want, and not TELL you about how great they think they are (and bombard you with all their “extras”)! Shopping by price alone can burn you, so be careful.

Happy shopping 🙂